Regarded by most as the premiere safety prospect in the 2012 NFL draft, Alabama's Mark Barron has the build of a small linebacker. While he may not have the dynamic range of some of the star safeties in the NFL, Barron more than makes up for that with his tenaciousness and overall physical play.
The 6'1", 213-pound former Crimson Tide player recently underwent double hernia surgery earlier in the spring and did not participate at the NFL Scouting Combine. But Barron is a two-time captain who was the quarterback of Nick Saban's complex and downright dominating defense.
What the Experts Are Saying
Barron reads routes and defends the run well. He has good hands and reacts quickly, allowing him to make plays on the ball, which he is often near. He is a sure tackler and uses sound foot technique to put himself in great position. He transitions well in coverage and can defend a variety of offensive players in different positions. Against the run, Barron comes downfield with a head of steam; he can also fluidly run down and cover fast receivers against the pass.
From CBS Sports' Rob Rang:
Isn't as reliable an open-field tackler as you'd think, considering his reputation. Flies upfield in run support and can fail to break down properly. Doesn't possess the elite agility to dance with runners in the open field and always make the secure stop. Physical hitter who teases with textbook hit-lift-drive technique, but will also duck his head occasion to make the big hit and miss entirely or fail to wrap up securely and have the ball-carrier spin through his attempted tackle.
Saban spent the 2011 season hiding Barron in coverage and allowing him to play down near the line of scrimmage extensively. However, he was not asked to drop down and cover the slot in Saban's scheme. While he can be stiff in the hips, he certainly shows enough burst to close and makes plays on the ball.
Barron should be able to walk into any defensive huddle in the NFL on day one of training camp and be an instant starter.
The Bucs grab one of the top defensive prospects in the draft in safety Mark Barron. However, safety isn't considered an elite position in the NFL these days, so some of this may view this as a bit of a reach. The Bucs certainly have an aging secondary, so Barron should add some youth immediately and has the character to be a team leader by year two.